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Do Fish Eat Snails? The Answer Will Surprise You 

Everyone knows that fish eat other fish, but do fish eat snails? This is a question that has been plaguing the inquisitive minds of novice aquarists. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this straightforward guide on whether or not fish eat snails.

Do Fish Eat Snails

Do fish eat snails?

Yes, most of the aquarium fish eat snails. Some aquarists get the help of snail-eating fish to get rid of the pest snails in their aquariums. On many occasions, they do not eat snails as their main meals. They just pick them once they meet the snail! Some aquarists feed their fish with small snails, after crushing the shell. Moreover, for some fish species, eating shells is a dietary need. 

Why are my fish eating my snails?

Generally, most fish need some meat in their diet. In the natural environment, they eat insects, worms, or smaller fish to fulfill their requirement. Meanwhile, larger, carnivorous fish primarily subsists on other fish, small mammals, or birds. As the aquarium fish have limited access to those feeds, they eat the easiest meat food available in the aquarium.

Snails are slow-moving animals and fish can get them easily. The only problem is the shell outside them. Besides, if your fish feed does not contain all the nutrition they need or if it is not enough to meet their requirements, they tend to eat snails or other small living creatures in your aquarium.

What fish eat snails?

Do tetra fish eat snails?

Tetras are generally peaceful fish, although their behavioral pattern can vary by species. They will not chase or attack the other inhabitants of their tank unless they are stressed out. They are easily satisfied with the food that is fed to them, though may also occasionally snack on the algae present in the tank. Therefore, most varieties of tetras will peacefully coexist with snails. They will usually ignore snails and not bully or prey on them.

However, some varieties of tetras, specially semi-aggressive tetras species like Black skirts and Serpae tetras, are curious about these creatures. They are notorious for their fin-nipping tendencies. They can nip the eyestalks of snails. Although that may not kill the animal, they may be stressed out. Further, they are reluctant to eat adult snails as they cannot crush their hard shells. 

However, this scenario is going to be different for baby snails. Although Tetras are not fond of snails, they are opportunistic feeders. If the size of the snails fits their mouth they will eat the snails. Since the shell of the baby, snails are soft, and their size is small, tetras tend to swallow the snails. 

Do betta fish eat snails?

Bettas are opportunistic eaters and they usually eat anything in your tank. If given the chance, they will eat your snails too.  However, snails have a hard shell out of their body and Bettas barely crush it. Larger snails have harder shells. Although it is hard to crush the shells, they still try to get at the fleshy parts of your snail. A fully grown one is going to have a much better chance of defending themselves than the little snails.

Therefore, it is advised to put adult and large species of snails in the tank of Bettas if you need to keep your snails protected. Providing a balanced, sufficient meal to your Bettas is also a way to avoid your snails being eaten by them. However, there are many betta owners who have had a snail in their tank for many years without any issues.

Do kuhli loaches eat snails?

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Just like the snails, Kuhli loaches also are scavengers. Kuhli loaches are peaceful fish but are greedy eaters. They will eat anything smaller they can find on the bottom; a fish or snail. They are nocturnal animals. Some aquarists bought the Kuhli Loaches for the purpose of getting rid of snails.

You may not see that they are eating snails, but notice that there are not any snail eggs in the tank, which means the loaches probably ate them during the night and might have even consumed the smallest grown snails. According to the researchers, they enjoy eating typical pond snails, Rams Horn snails, and Malaysian Trumpet Snails. As Kuhli loaches are nocturnal fish, their feeding patterns are still not confirmed. 

Some believe the loaches eat snails that have cracked shells or might be dying while others are thinking they really eat snails as they could not find another culprit in the tank that would be responsible for the decrease in the snail population. In conclusion, Kuhli loaches might be able to attack smaller or baby snails and eggs, as long as they reach the snail’s body and pull it out at least partially. They are not considered real snail eaters yet.

Do Fish Eat Snails

Do goldfish eat snails?

You may find it hard to believe that these beautiful creatures are one of the most prolific predators for snails!  Nearly every type of Goldfish species, from common to fancy, will seek out snails to eat. They will eat any type of snail that is fit for their mouth. However, as Goldfish are not big species, you cannot use them to get rid of larger snails. It needed to get help from another method to get rid of larger snails. However, Goldfish prefer cold water that is lower on the hardness scale. Therefore, you cannot put them in a warmer tank with tropical fish.

Do koi fish eat snails?

Koi fish will feed on snails if they fit into their mouth. If you need to keep snails with the Koi fish you should select large snails which are really larger than their mouths. They may leave the small snails which are already in their tank too.

Do Oscar fish eat snails?

Yes, Oscar fish are considered to be the most enthusiastic snail eaters. They can eat snails in and out of their shells. They directly swallow the snail if it is fit for their mouth. Or else mature oscar fish break snail shells with a crunch and devour what’s inside. They are not snail eaters in their natural environment. They eat snails in your aquarium as they are not picky eaters and will curiously munch on almost anything.

Oscar fish eat the snail with their shell. You don’t have to bother about shell particles, as they will most likely spit out all the shells naturally. Some people compare the eating of snails by oscar fish to resemble the way we eat popcorn! The Oscars play with the snails when they aren’t hungry. Sometimes you can see the snail get scooped up and spit out like a toy. Some oscar fish can devour snails larger than 1 inch in diameter. Snails are considered a perfect snack for Oscar fish. There are no guarantees for these poor snails when oscar fish are around!

Do puffer fish eat snails?

Unlike most of the fish that are listed above, puffer fish need those hard-shelled crustaceans as a part of their dietary needs. There are many types of puffer fish and most of them eat snails. Green spotted puffers are such a kind of puffer fish. They not only enjoy the taste of snails, but they will chew on the shells.

The shells help to wear down their beak-like teeth, which would otherwise continue growing until they become a handicap. They spit 90% of the shell and some amount goes to their stomach with the flesh. Dwarf puffer is another type of snail-eating fish. They are small species and they eat small size snails that fit in their mouth.

Instead of biting through it, they prefer to ‘suck’ the snail out of the shell. Dwarf Puffers will eat Ramshorn Snails, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Pond Snails, and even small Mystery Snails. However, as they are saltwater species, you need brackish water to keep them. Their environment must have a specific gravity between 1.005 and 1.20.

Do Fish Eat Snails

Do angelfish eat snails?

Usually, Angelfish do not eat snails as their mouths are too small to swallow the snails. However, some aquarists noticed that they nibble on relatively small snails. Angelfish tend to eat the eyestalks of snails too.  This may be due to the omnivorous characteristics of cichlids. Furthermore, Angelfish tend to be aggressive. In such events, they can bully or eat smaller snails though they are not fond of snails. But for the most part, angelfish and snails can live harmoniously in the same tank.

Do ghost knife fish eat snails?

Ghost Knife fish is a carnivore. at snails? The Black Ghost Knifefish is a carnivore. In their natural environment, the fish emerge from their hiding places to hunt once the sun has set. Throughout the night, the fish feed on insects, insect larvae, worms, snails, invertebrates, and small fish. Actually, snails are good food for ghost knife fish. In the aquarium also, you cannot keep snails with the Ghost Knife fish. They will likely be eaten during night hours. They are large aggressive fish and they eat even the large snails.

Do flying fox fish eat snails?

Although Flying Fox eats algae and plant matter commonly, they are omnivorous. They eat insect larvae and small crustaceans such as snails and worms. However, they are not fond of snails. All mature Foxes are territorial and can be extremely aggressive, and if they meet snails that come across their territory they will definitely kill them. Therefore it is good not to keep small snails with the flying fox. 

Other fish that eats snails

There are many species of fish who eat snails. Fish are commonly omnivores and they will eat small creatures as their diet in their natural environment. Similarly, in aquariums, they will eat small crustaceans like snails. These are such fish species that eat snails. 

  1. Bala shark
  2. Betta Fish
  3. Clown Loach
  4.  Convict Cichlid
  5. Cory Catfish
  6. Dwarf Chain Loach
  7. Dwarf Crayfish
  8. Dwarf Gourami
  9. Golden Topminnow
  10.  Longear Sunfish
  11. North American Ghost Shrimp
  12. Paradise Fish
  13. Polka Dot Loach
  14. Pumpkinseed Sunfish
  15. Pygmy Sunfish
  16. Rainbow Darter Fish
  17. Striped Raphael Catfish
  18. Yoyo Loach
  19. Zebra Loach
Do Fish Eat Snails infographic

Can fish digest snail shells?

Some snail-eating fish such as puffer fish spit the snail shells out after eating the whole snail. This will help them sharpen their teeth. Goldfish will eat the whole snail and not spit the shell again. This would not harm their stomach as these are small pond snails and their shell is not sharp enough to harm their stomach. On the other hand, these are carnivorous and omnivorous fish and they should have enough stomach acids to digest calcareous materials such as bones and shells. 

What fish eat snail eggs?

Most snail eaters also eat snail eggs too. These are usually dug into the substrate. They occasionally eat snail eggs as they search for food. Cory catfish, Convict cichlid, Bettas, Dwarf chain loach, and Rainbow Dater are such species.

What fish eat snails but not shrimp?

Most aquarium fish are omnivores and they snack on small crustaceans like snails and shrimps. Further, shrimp is the main food in the aquatic industry. Nevertheless, larger shrimp can live with the fish species that eat snails. You must consider the species of the shrimp and the size before putting fish in a community tank to eat snails.

Usually, puffer fish, some species of Tetras live peacefully with larger shrimp species. However, there are no universal matching charts for shrimp and the snail-eating fish as most of the snail-eating fish eat shrimps too. You can consider adding larger shrimp species with smaller snail-eating fish. 

Do Fish Eat Snails

Will snails harm my fish?

Snails are completely harmless for fish. They are scavengers and actually help to clean the aquarium. Although they will not harm healthy fish, they may harm sick fish. Snails will also not hesitate to approach and eat rotting skin or flesh of weak and sick fish that do not move around. So to keep snails with fish, you will need to ensure that the fish are healthy. Further, though snails are able to carry diseases and even parasites, not all snails are afflicted with this. However, aquarium snails tend to be safe from spreading diseases to other tank inhabitants

Conclusion 

Although snails are good scavengers, due to their rapid growth and reproduction ability you may find them an eyesore. Sometimes, they appear in your aquarium even though you did not introduce them. Small, microscopic snail eggs may enter your aquarium when you put aquarium plants without monitoring. Whatever the situation, getting rid of snails is a true uphill battle.

Snail-eating fish are the ideal candidates for any aquarium that is dealing with a snail infestation problem. However, it depends on the number and the species of snails present in your aquarium. Most of the fish listed above do not take snails as their main diet. They eat the snails on certain occasions and the size of the snails must fit their mouths. 

Before selecting a snail eater you should think about the snail species, size, and the number of snails present in your aquarium. The tank conditions must be fit to the introducing fish species. More on, consider if the community in the tank is compatible with the snail-eating species. 

You can have a surprising outcome if you put the right candidate to eliminate the snails at the right time. It will be a win-win situation as your fish get meals and you can get rid of the snails at the same time!!

Credit to : Girl Talks Fish

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.